INFINITE PARKING LOT & THE EMPTY SPACES

In the end, finally, I arrived at an infinite parking lot.  I found myself alone, decisively alone at last.  I’d lost all connection finally, could find no phone numbers in my pocket, no addresses, no map to show me how to get home.  It was just me & this parking lot that went on and on forever.

There was no one around.  No one was sitting in their car listening to the radio.  No one was walking from their car to wherever it was they were trying to get to.  The reason they had come and parked in the parking lot.  No one was driving around and looking for a space.  No one was pulling out of a space and driving toward the exit, wherever that was.  All of the lots seemed to exit into other lots or into brief aisles of asphalt that fed into other lots before they even got going properly.  There were medians of grass, niggardly trees that looked recently planted by landscapers, raised beds of flowers in tastefully brick-rimmed troughs of soil and cement.  The beds and the medians were well tended, but I don’t know by whom because I saw no one mowing the lawn, no one weeding.  The timed sprinklers occasionally surged to life, spraying their arcs of water over the vegetation which was everywhere and always encased in curbs.

It took—I don’t know—maybe days?  It seemed like it must have taken days of walking to get out past the point where all of the lots were densely packed if not filled with cars to capacity.  I noticed when the lots—some of them larger than several football fields stacked horizontally next to one another, some of them just slender corridors with two rows of parked cars and a single aisle to enter and exit from these spaces, and every area and design and layout in between those two extremes—started to get gap-toothed.  I’d be walking through a parking lot big-enough to build an airport onto, with no nice grassy medians to punctuate the endless rows and rows of cars,  combed with parking spaces diagonal in relation to the parking lots’ axes and almost right angled in relationship to each other across the central dividing line that created a border between bumpers.  And I would notice, that it would be only 3/4 full or so.  Or half capacity.  And so on.  Further out, spots started showing up even in the smaller lots, scattered like archipelagos interjecting themselves between the vast, oceanic planes of the larger parking lots.

Finally it got so there would only be a handful of cars in each parking lot.  And then parking lots started being empty.  And there were only empty parking lots stretching out endlessly between myself and the point of intersection between the ground and the horizon’s distant blue bell curve.

I have this memory of stopping somewhere in Kansas.  And either Karl or Jack got out of the car and ran out into a soybean field.  We’d been traveling for hundreds of miles across which the green flatness of shin high soybean fields was only interrupted once every twenty miles or so by an exit ramp leading to a McDonalds and a Shell Gas Station.

The mantric repetition of McDonald’s and Shell Gas Stations at the end of exit ramps had gotten us to the point where we were starting to wonder if we were trapped in a time loop or something.  Or if the road weren’t imperceptibly bending in one direction, leading us in a long loop.

And he ran out there—he must have run at least two or three-hundred feet out into the soybean fields—and he stopped, spread his feet shoulder width apart, and he generally assumed the posture of a man who has unzipped his pants and is taking a piss, which, with his back turned towards us is—I’m sure—exactly what he was doing.  I have no doubt.

There is no doubt in my mind.

The landscape out there in Kansas though, had started playing tricks with my depth perception.  And even though I technically knew he was hundreds of feet away, because there was nothing between myself and him and nothing at all whatsoever except the abyss of a Kansas wide sky, light years away, beyond him—because of this lack of punctuation in the landscape, it seemed almost as if I could have reached out my hand and touched him between the shoulderblades.  Even though he was hundreds of feet away.

My depth perception had been warped by hours of exposure to the Kansas landscape so that it seemed like this.  It seemed like, in this kind of flatness, the gutted reality of distance became meaningless, collapsing space in on itself.  The way time must look from eternity, like a creekbed in a painting, flowing from one perimeter of the frame to another and then cut off. Clipped.  Just like that right there.

That was what the endless empty parking lots going out to the sky felt like.

I got down on my knees like a wood block print of Abraham, and I clasped my hands to each other, held them to my chest. I said, in a whisper addressed to no one in particular, “I just want to thank my sponsors, because I wouldn’t be here without your support…”

I got up and looked out at the expanse, boundless and perpetual, veined with grassy medians and stippled with arc lights whose bulbs hung dormant in the dumb light of brainless blue day.

I wondered why didn’t they build a parking garage?  But as soon as that thought entered my head, I knew the answer.  It would have been like the Tower of Babylon, climbing—level after level after level—to find a parking space, until the air blew in over the chest-high concrete perimeter at the sub-zero temperatures of the stratosphere.  And who were we to go looking for places to park up above the carpet of cumulus clouds drifting fuzzily below?

I wondered:  Where was everyone?  All these cars, all of them empty, like some Biblical Flood-type event had emptied the parking lot of all flesh.  Only the cars had been left behind, bearing mute witness to the mass-exodus of humanity from the parking lot.

What were we all coming to see?  And who were all these people who were still on their way, still driving across who knew what distances to fill in the empty spaces?

In the Day of Our Lord, All the Ronald Reagans Will Be Counted

Walt Disney’s head, they said, is on ice.  Waiting for a time it can be attached to a new body.  He believed in the resurrection in the most literal sense, apparently.  Old Walt Disney did.  He was very fond of Nazis, and of making money, and of children, and he brought joy to the hearts of men.  For a price.  Now his head, waits to be unthawed, and suture back on to a body that will carry into the bright, widening horizon of the future of all mankind.  On that day, his Nazi sympathies will be tallied against his cartoon characters.  Mickey Mouse will sit in Judgment.  Pluto the Dog, in the witness box, will wordlessly make himself clearly understood to all of those present, just as he always does.  “It was Hollywood.  Picasso read Nietzsche.  It was just the sort of—you know.  I mean it was a fashion.  It was Hollywood, for crying out loud!  Did you guys do this with Picasso?  Did Picasso have to go through all of this?” 

 

Ronald Reagan playing an airforce pilot in a tin-roofed studio during the Great War.  The studio, itself, like an airplane hangar.  Ronald Reagan denouncing and blacklisting his fellow thespians in the time of McCarthy.  Ronald Reagan playing President.  Strange to think that by the end, he’d forgotten all of his lines, and shed every role.  Like a man undressing himself and undressing himself until—like an onion—he’s not there anymore.  Tossed into the stew.  A dirty trick that makes you cry, this peeling away without any center.  Why?  Why did I start taking my clothes off in the first place, he asks himself, in a hospital gown, his feet floating above the white tile, as the attendants wheel him back on a gurney to his room.  Like a book set back on the shelf in a library, they put him away, and he sits there, a jumble of words and stories with the door closed on them.  Tenantless as a coat closet. 

 

It was in Alexandria, when all the books in the libraries were burned, that everything was forgotten for the first time.  In the morning after the sacrilege, men moved about the courtyards paving stones, murmuring and gibbering, like lost and brain-damaged men, cut off from words, cut off from the story they had clothed themselves in, and naked.  Storyless. 

 

Eratosthenes, in Alexandria, heard of a city named Cyrene where there was a well.  And this well, when the sun was at it’s zenith, became perfectly filled with light the water at the bottom of the well as bright as the ground round and about, and the slimy walls of the well painted in all the sun’s brightness.  And taking the distance between his own position on the surface of the Earth, Eratosthenes was able to draw up an equation, and plug-in that value, that distance, in order to calculate the circumference of the Earth.  The figure he came up with was remarkably accurate, as scientists of later centuries are still testifying. 

 

In the same way, we sometimes come to know ourselves, on the telephone with people whose voices, thrumming out of the earpiece, come to us like ghosts out of the bottom of a well, underwater on the other side of a tunnel, in a city far from where we are.  They come to us, gliding like birds on a jetstream. Like birds without wings or feathers of bird-skeletons.  Like birds without bodies.

 

There is something there, that isn’t there.  There is something here, that isn’t here. 

 

I spent that year shitting myself in a cage, chewing on a rubber nub.  Peter the Rabbit hopped across the wallpaper, a plane of butter yellow, populated with members of the family Leporidae, of the order Lagomorpha, dressed in the costume of the 19th century bourgeoisie.  On television before the backdrop of an American flag, the voice of our President addressing the nation, MTV bleeding in across the windy emptiness, the barren plain that the screen looked out upon, where he held court like a cored ectoplasm, transparent, through which strains of Prince singing 1999, which toppe the charts that week:   Over the course *  bzzzzt  * Over the course *  bzzzzt  * Over the course *  bzzzzt  * of these discussions I’ve become more and more deeply convinced that the human spirit *  bzzzzt  * the human spirit *  bzzzzt  *  I was dreaming when I wrote this / Forgive if it goes astray / but when I woke up this morning /Coulda sworn it was judgment day *  bzzzzt  * the human spirit *  bzzzzt  *   must be capable of rising above dealing with other nations and human beings by threatening their existence.  *  bzzzzt  *   The sky was all purple, there were people runnin’ everywhere / Tryin 2 run from the destruction / U know I didnn’t even care  *  bzzzzt  *   the human spirit *  bzzzzt  *   we must thoroughly examine every opportunity for reducing tensions and for introducing greater stability into the strategic calculus on both sides.

 

The first nation to establish a lunar military outpost will rule the earth. The projector starting making noises sputtering to life and then it opened its mouth.  The cave shelter will be sealed off by an airlock, a set of two airtight doors with a space between them. In this way, only the air in the space between the two doors will be lost each time someone enters or leaves… Light was on the screen, rolled down from its case, bolted to the ceiling.  Black and white.  And there was a sound out the garbled auditory primer-coat of mechanical spinning, and the scratchiness where the magnetic filings glued to the tape on which the voice was recorded, a sound of swelling music, and then the smooth, confident baritone, Anglo-Saxon, Eisenhower Era.  And when the voice spoke, it said: Many scientific men have speculated about the first beginnings of life and their speculations are often of great interest, but there is absolutely no definite knowledge and no convincing guess yet of the way in which life began.  But nearly all authorities are agreed that it probably began upon mud or sand in warm sunlit shallow brackish water, and that it spread up the beaches to the interidal and out into the open water.

 

Nearly all authorities are agreed. The sound of a man talking in the 1950′s out of a time of solidity, gravity, wholeness, and healthiness—of a time of black of white things, parents loving their children, the enemy defeated, etcetera, etcetera.  Certainties, tendernesses and sweetnesses of which colored world that I lived in, like a juiced orange, had been drained.  Nearly all authorities are agreed.  The Atomic Age. The Edenic Age.  The Age of the Rocket Ship.  Of the Time Machine.  Back when the expansion of the Empire of Mankind was just reaching out into the darkness and emptiness of outer-space.  Most of this fast flying would take place at very high altitudes where there is not too much air to interfere.  And since the ramjet, the rocket, and the rocket airplane can be improved more than the pilot, the pilotless missile is bound to be the final result in many cases.  Destiny lifting her poodle-skirt, to reveal the religious mystery of her milky, midwestern thighs.  The pilotless missile is bound to be the final result.  A blouse whose top button was buttoned, in the hollow between her collarbones, came unclasped.  The man in the moon may plot the attack that will open World War III.  Soon after a 20th century Columbus pilots his rocket to the moon the nation that sent him there will a have a lunar base that will expose any spot on earth to celestial spying and sudden rocket invasion.  And so we began the process of denuding her, which continued even after she was entirely undressed: off came the skin, and the muscle in red flaps was removed.  Organs jarred in preservative fluids, and lids sealed over them.  The skeleton disassembled.  Where?  Where the satisfaction that was sought, in unbuttoning that first button? 

 

There is no definite knowledge and no convincing guess yet of the way in which life began. 

 

There is no definite knowledge.  Eisenhower, with the sound cut out, mouthing the shape of his own silence on mute, ribbons of bright white flowering bands scrolling across the screen like rain falling upside down, rain falling into the ancient sky outside of the camera’s field of vision, bleached bands of interference patterns where the skin of image started stripping away.   There is no definite knowledge. 

 

And so they silently glide by above our heads, in the silence, in the airlessness and the dark–machines that are watching us.

 

In bed last night, my hands on my chest were drained of agency like gloves discarded and left at the bottom of the umbrella stand.   Hidden beneath the retracted black wings of those machines, their wooden handles hanging out of the top of the cylinder like caudal appendages in paralyzed readiness, flexed stock-still, begging for absent figures grab them by the tail to bring them back to life in a gray world of rainy days.  My hands on my chest were like someone else’s hands, a dead man’s hands.  As if I were looking down on myself out of anesthesia.  But in my dream, I dreamed of rising, of rising out of myself, my arms upraised towards the lamp burning at the ceiling fans axis.  And at the end of these dreams, I would realized I hadn’t moved.  Hadn’t moved a muscle.  I would rise out of my prone body, again and again, like a ghost leaving its shell but falling back again. 

 

In fact I was at that a border.  The intertidal place.   I was in shallow, warm, sunlit water.  I diffused down the shoreline.  I spread out into the open water.  I can remember it, even now, a billion years later, pared, and shaved and squeezed back into a nub of finitude.  You were there for me.  I am here.  I am still here.  I am here for you.  Who are you? 

In the Day of Our Lord, All the Ronald Reagans Will Be Counted

 

Walt Disney’s head, they said, is on ice.  Waiting for a time it can be attached to a new body.  He believed in the resurrection in the most literal sense, apparently.  Old Walt Disney did.  He was very fond of Nazis, and of making money, and of children, and he brought joy to the hearts of men.  For a price.  Now his head, waits to be unthawed, and suture back on to a body that will carry into the bright, widening horizon of the future of all mankind.  On that day, his Nazi sympathies will be tallied against his cartoon characters.  Mickey Mouse will sit in Judgment.  Pluto the Dog, in the witness box, will wordlessly make himself clearly understood to all of those present, just as he always does.  “It was Hollywood.  Picasso read Nietzsche.  It was just the sort of—you know.  I mean it was a fashion.  It was Hollywood, for crying out loud!  Did you guys do this with Picasso?  Did Picasso have to go through all of this?” 

 

Ronald Reagan playing an airforce pilot in a tin-roofed studio during the Great War.  The studio, itself, like an airplane hangar.  Ronald Reagan denouncing and blacklisting his fellow thespians in the time of McCarthy.  Ronald Reagan playing President.  Strange to think that by the end, he’d forgotten all of his lines, and shed every role.  Like a man undressing himself and undressing himself until—like an onion—he’s not there anymore.  Tossed into the stew.  A dirty trick that makes you cry, this peeling away without any center.  Why?  Why did I start taking my clothes off in the first place, he asks himself, in a hospital gown, his feet floating above the white tile, as the attendants wheel him back on a gurney to his room.  Like a book set back on the shelf in a library, they put him away, and he sits there, a jumble of words and stories with the door closed on them.  Tenantless as a coat closet. 

 

It was in Alexandria, when all the books in the libraries were burned, that everything was forgotten for the first time.  In the morning after the sacrilege, men moved about the courtyards paving stones, murmuring and gibbering, like lost and brain-damaged men, cut off from words, cut off from the story they had clothed themselves in, and naked.  Storyless. 

 

Eratosthenes, in Alexandria, heard of a city named Cyrene where there was a well.  And this well, when the sun was at it’s zenith, became perfectly filled with light the water at the bottom of the well as bright as the ground round and about, and the slimy walls of the well painted in all the sun’s brightness.  And taking the distance between his own position on the surface of the Earth, Eratosthenes was able to draw up an equation, and plug-in that value, that distance, in order to calculate the circumference of the Earth.  The figure he came up with was remarkably accurate, as scientists of later centuries are still testifying. 

 

In the same way, we sometimes come to know ourselves, on the telephone with people whose voices, thrumming out of the earpiece, come to us like ghosts out of the bottom of a well, underwater on the other side of a tunnel, in a city far from where we are.  They come to us, gliding like birds on a jetstream. Like birds without wings or feathers of bird-skeletons.  Like birds without bodies.

 

There is something there, that isn’t there.  There is something here, that isn’t here. 

 

I spent that year shitting myself in a cage, chewing on a rubber nub.  Peter the Rabbit hopped across the wallpaper, a plane of butter yellow, populated with members of the family Leporidae, of the order Lagomorpha, dressed in the costume of the 19th century bourgeoisie.  On television before the backdrop of an American flag, the voice of our President addressing the nation, MTV bleeding in across the windy emptiness, the barren plain that the screen looked out upon, where he held court like a cored ectoplasm, transparent, through which strains of Prince singing 1999, which toppe the charts that week:   Over the course *  bzzzzt  * Over the course *  bzzzzt  * Over the course *  bzzzzt  * of these discussions I’ve become more and more deeply convinced that the human spirit *  bzzzzt  * the human spirit *  bzzzzt  *  I was dreaming when I wrote this / Forgive if it goes astray / but when I woke up this morning /Coulda sworn it was judgment day *  bzzzzt  * the human spirit *  bzzzzt  *   must be capable of rising above dealing with other nations and human beings by threatening their existence.  *  bzzzzt  *   The sky was all purple, there were people runnin’ everywhere / Tryin 2 run from the destruction / U know I didnn’t even care  *  bzzzzt  *   the human spirit *  bzzzzt  *   we must thoroughly examine every opportunity for reducing tensions and for introducing greater stability into the strategic calculus on both sides.

 

The first nation to establish a lunar military outpost will rule the earth. The projector starting making noises sputtering to life and then it opened its mouth.  The cave shelter will be sealed off by an airlock, a set of two airtight doors with a space between them. In this way, only the air in the space between the two doors will be lost each time someone enters or leaves… Light was on the screen, rolled down from its case, bolted to the ceiling.  Black and white.  And there was a sound out the garbled auditory primer-coat of mechanical spinning, and the scratchiness where the magnetic filings glued to the tape on which the voice was recorded, a sound of swelling music, and then the smooth, confident baritone, Anglo-Saxon, Eisenhower Era.  And when the voice spoke, it said: Many scientific men have speculated about the first beginnings of life and their speculations are often of great interest, but there is absolutely no definite knowledge and no convincing guess yet of the way in which life began.  But nearly all authorities are agreed that it probably began upon mud or sand in warm sunlit shallow brackish water, and that it spread up the beaches to the interidal and out into the open water.

 

Nearly all authorities are agreed. The sound of a man talking in the 1950′s out of a time of solidity, gravity, wholeness, and healthiness—of a time of black of white things, parents loving their children, the enemy defeated, etcetera, etcetera.  Certainties, tendernesses and sweetnesses of which colored world that I lived in, like a juiced orange, had been drained.  Nearly all authorities are agreed.  The Atomic Age. The Edenic Age.  The Age of the Rocket Ship.  Of the Time Machine.  Back when the expansion of the Empire of Mankind was just reaching out into the darkness and emptiness of outer-space.  Most of this fast flying would take place at very high altitudes where there is not too much air to interfere.  And since the ramjet, the rocket, and the rocket airplane can be improved more than the pilot, the pilotless missile is bound to be the final result in many cases.  Destiny lifting her poodle-skirt, to reveal the religious mystery of her milky, midwestern thighs.  The pilotless missile is bound to be the final result.  A blouse whose top button was buttoned, in the hollow between her collarbones, came unclasped.  The man in the moon may plot the attack that will open World War III.  Soon after a 20th century Columbus pilots his rocket to the moon the nation that sent him there will a have a lunar base that will expose any spot on earth to celestial spying and sudden rocket invasion.  And so we began the process of denuding her, which continued even after she was entirely undressed: off came the skin, and the muscle in red flaps was removed.  Organs jarred in preservative fluids, and lids sealed over them.  The skeleton disassembled.  Where?  Where the satisfaction that was sought, in unbuttoning that first button? 

 

There is no definite knowledge and no convincing guess yet of the way in which life began. 

 

There is no definite knowledge.  Eisenhower, with the sound cut out, mouthing the shape of his own silence on mute, ribbons of bright white flowering bands scrolling across the screen like rain falling upside down, rain falling into the ancient sky outside of the camera’s field of vision, bleached bands of interference patterns where the skin of image started stripping away.   There is no definite knowledge. 

 

And so they silently glide by above our heads, in the silence, in the airlessness and the dark–machines that are watching us.

 

In bed last night, my hands on my chest were drained of agency like gloves discarded and left at the bottom of the umbrella stand.   Hidden beneath the retracted black wings of those machines, their wooden handles hanging out of the top of the cylinder like caudal appendages in paralyzed readiness, flexed stock-still, begging for absent figures grab them by the tail to bring them back to life in a gray world of rainy days.  My hands on my chest were like someone else’s hands, a dead man’s hands.  As if I were looking down on myself out of anesthesia.  But in my dream, I dreamed of rising, of rising out of myself, my arms upraised towards the lamp burning at the ceiling fans axis.  And at the end of these dreams, I would realized I hadn’t moved.  Hadn’t moved a muscle.  I would rise out of my prone body, again and again, like a ghost leaving its shell but falling back again. 

 

In fact I was at that a border.  The intertidal place.   I was in shallow, warm, sunlit water.  I diffused down the shoreline.  I spread out into the open water.  I can remember it, even now, a billion years later, pared, and shaved and squeezed back into a nub of finitude.  You were there for me.  I am here.  I am still here.  I am here for you.  Who are you? 

Evil: It Might Not Be What You Were Hoping It Was

the question of evil

[A friend of mine--a libertarian--shared this on his wall.]  

The question we must first address is do you believe in evil? Is evil only a psychological disorder that consists of bad choices; something that can be managed, studied by psychologists, and medicated away. Something we can screen out through “tougher laws” Or is there a choice involved for some people to chose selfishly the dark side over the light?
The question we must first address is do you believe in evil? Is evil only a psychological disorder that consists of bad choices; something that can be managed, studied by psychologists, and medicated away. Something we can screen out through “tougher laws” Or is there a choice involved for some people to chose selfishly the dark side over the light?
[I responded somewhat overzealously by writing an epistle. Almost all of my comments below are more or less directly cribbed from the work of an author whose name I would rather not mention, since it might cause some to dismiss the argument prior to considering it.]
Thomas DoaneThe dichotomy you describe–is evil psychological, a series of bad choices, able to be medicated, or is there a ‘deeper choice’–is not actually a dichotomy. The two situations are redundant, the one describing a continuity and the other describing a discrete point within that continuity.
about an hour ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane Our sense of free will results from a failure to appreciate this: we do not know what we intend to do until the intention itself arises. To understand this is to realize that we are not the authors of our thoughts and actions in the way that we generally suppose.
    55 minutes ago · LikeThomas Doane Of course insigth does not make social and political freedom any less important. The freedom to do what one intends and not to do otherwise is no less valuable than it ever was. Having a gun to your head is still a problem worth rectifying, wherever your intentions come from. But the idea that we, as conscious beings, are deeply responsible for the character of our mental lives and subsequent behavior is simply impossible to map onto reality.
  • 53 minutes ago · Like
  •  THERE is a distinction between voluntary and involuntary action actions of course but it does nothing to support the common idea of free will (nor does it depend upon it). A voluntary action is accompanied by the felt intention to carry it out, where as an involuntary action isn’t. Needless to say this difference is reflected at the level of the brain. And what a person consciously intends to do say a lot about him. It makes sense to treat a man who enjoys murdering children differently from one who accidentally hit and killed a child with his car–because the conscious intentions of of the former give us a lot of information about how he is likely to behave in the future. But where intentions themselves come from, and what determines their character in every instance, remains perfectly mysterious in subjective terms. Our sense of free will results from a failure to appreciate this: We do not know what we intend to do until the intention itself arises. To understand that is to realize that we are not the conscious authors of our thoughts and actions in the way that people generally suppose. Of course, that insight does not make social and political freedom any less important. The freedom do what one intends and not to do otherwise is no less valuable than it ever was. Having a gun to your head is still a problem worth rectifying, wherever intentions come from. But the idea that we, as conscious beings, are deeply responsible for the character of our mental lives and subsequent behavior is simply impossible to map onto reality.
  • Thomas Doane What does it mean to say that rapists and murderers commit crimes of their own free will? If this statement means anything, it must be that they could have behaved differently–not on the basis of random influences over which they have no control but because they as conscious agents were free to think and act in other ways. To say that they were free NOT to rape and murder is to say that they could have resisted the impulse to do so (or could have avoided feeling such an impulse altogether)–with the universe, including their brains, in precisely the same state as it was in at the moment they commited their crimes.
    43 minutes ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane The fact is that if “you” were in their position, same genetic history, same physical history, same exact physical and social context brainchemistry etc., molecule for molecule, atom for atom, “you” would be “them” and you would do exactly the same thing that they did.
    42 minutes ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane There is just no vantage point from which you can deny this unless you resort to some kind of Platonism.
    41 minutes ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane Just a sidenote: As far as I can understand it this view of human behavior is in accord with the gospel, though it is not in accord with later 2nd, 3rd and 4th century neo-platonic readings of the gospel.
    39 minutes ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane People will say that whachamacallit Aspberger’s loner killed the kids in Conneticut and not the guns he had in his possession.
    38 minutes ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane It would be possible to make some kind of metaphysical argument that “Evil” possessed Aspberger’s loner guy just as he held the guns, and that he was only one part of a larger process, just like the guns.
    37 minutes ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane Regardless of whether the former or the latter is a better description of what happened
    36 minutes ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane that if guns & gun-ownership were the province of local militias–which would be in line with the constitution I think–and if those militias were at least in some way–not in loco parentis but at least to some extent to be determined–accountable for the actions of their members
    35 minutes ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane what happened
    35 minutes ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane would have been far less likely to happen
    34 minutes ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane barring other macro-circumstances shifting (say if all these militias started smoking crystal meth)
    34 minutes ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane it still could have happened, no doubt
    29 minutes ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane but due to layers upon layers of circumstances that would have been slightly different, that context would have made what happened less likely to happen
    28 minutes ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane “Evil” is an edifice, a mental & linguistic construct, referring to real phenomena
    28 minutes ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane It behooves us, to make sure that we stay more focused on the actual phenomena, rather than the linguistic construct & ideological voltages around that construct
    27 minutes ago · Like · 1
  • Thomas Doane Would we rather maintain an object to punish, to project our grief & rage upon, self-righteously? Would we prefer this to taking actions which would obviously defuse and help to prevent specific situations from developing?
    23 minutes ago · Like · 1
  • Thomas Doane You and I, and people like ourselves will have to work together, now and in days that are to come in order to keep fighting against the evil whose ugly face we saw on Friday.
    13 minutes ago · Like
  • Jeremy John The real systemic question in the free will debate is whether the human system can reflect on itself. This would break determinism in the way Godel’s proof breaks formal systems. Human self reflection breaks our flat notions of “materialism” not by inv…See More
    11 minutes ago via mobile · Like
  • Thomas Doane Please explain how self-reflection is a “ground” to which free-will can anchor itself, rather than being merely the radioactive half-life of mental processes in continuuity with biological and physical contexts that we have no control over.
    7 minutes ago · Like
  • Thomas Doane An echo of the interpenetrative patterns of interference between brain-chemistry and physical/socio-biological contexts
  • 6 minutes ago · Like

That Trilobite Time

“I still…” -Anne Frank

trilobite archaean era trilobite wallpaper

I guess I should have given up hope a long time ago
Yet I still cling to it because I still believe, deep down
In spite of everything, that people are basically like Anne Frank:
Dead

Wish I could go back to that special time in all of our lives
that never happened. Mattel Ads & Sat. morning cartoons
I wish I could go back to that time of trilobite wallpaper
beyond the crib’s childproof bars. Just like a bottle of pills,
they had to fish me out at the end of a shiny silver hook. 2
that old time Archaean eon, of dark green forest floors shut
out from the sky by a thick canopy of trees that were never
named, to those ferns on the forest floor that are coming out
of our smokes stacks a billion years down the road.  I want
to be just like a Triceratops when I grow up, working full time
at being unemployed, always one step ahead of the slaughter.
Chomping on ferns in the medieval jungle of the ancient
animal death matrix. Scrubbed head to toe with trilobites.
Free as only the mindless can be.

Simulacrum/The Succesive Phases of the Image

The simulacrum is never what hides the truth – it is truth that hides the fact that there is none.
The simulacrum is true.

Such would be the successive phases of the image:
it is the reflection of a profound reality;
it masks and denatures a profound reality;
it masks the absence of a profound reality;
it has no relation to any reality whatsoever;
it is its own pure simulacrum.

Three Readings of The Communist Manifesto

Reblogged from Tim Kinsella:

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Baby Tiger Bones/The Gospel of John

The Trinity explosion, 16 milliseconds after detonation. The fireball is about 600 feet (200 m) wide. The black specks silhouetted along the horizon are trees.

The Trinity explosion, 16 milliseconds after detonation. The fireball is about 600 feet (200 m) wide. The black specks silhouetted along the horizon are trees.

When I put on my watch it makes me look smaller in the mirror.  My wrists shrink, my hand becomes, misshapen, thick-veined, wrong-looking.  I can hear the insect sound of the second hand ticking.  How many seconds until my hearing goes?  How many seconds between this one and the hour of my death?  How many thousand, how many million?  There are roughly 2 billion seconds in the median lifespan of an American citizen.  It’s been about 900 million seconds since I was born.  I follow the seconds back like stepping stones, to the year I spent in the office on the fourth floor, sleeping under a desk, with clothes and hygiene products in the bottom drawer.  I would listen to the Gospel of John on my computer, trying to gently force myself unconscious.

That time–and the things I came to understand then, the book I was reading over and over during that period–opens before me.  I step over the sill of the closet, cross beneath the lintel into the darkness of that time.  The light socket screwed into the ceiling is bulb-less.  And the book is like a chinese box that folds and unfolds, locks and unlocks forever, for as long as I vainly attempt to fiddle with it.

Some drawers are plain.  Some drawers have brass mounts in in fleur-de-lys like patterns of brass, screw dotted petals, capping the corners of each drawer.  There are small drawers, and drawers with wide faces; shallow drawers, slender drawers of surprising depth, deep and skinny as the barrel of an arquebus.

I open the drawers, and the drawers in the sides of drawers.  I pull out, and swing to the side tall columns of drawers,  which rotate on thick iron hinges.  And I keep going.  I keep opening and unlocking, until I am backed out of the closet.  I open cabinets and cabinets within the cabinets, drawers within drawers within the cabinets.  In my exploration of the box’s innards, I find a number of interesting artifacts.

For example:

The feather of an unimaginable bird, of vivid colors, lies at the bottom of a long slender drawer.  It has a tennis ball colored shaft or rachis and canary colored barbs with a dappling or brilliant orange along the inner and outer vanes.  In another drawer I find the skeleton of a tiny baby tiger.  It’s packed away in a series of labelled manila envelopes: femur, 1st thoraic vertebra, T7, tarsals etc.  It takes me quite awhile to reassemble the thing.    It can’t have lived long.  Deeper in, I find–floating in jars which had originally been filled with different types of baby food tiny reptile specimens floating in formaldehyde.  They belong to a genus and species with which I am not familiar.  I find cakes of soap in silver-gilt jadeite boxes of octagonal form, with tiny pearls inlaid along the borders of each green plaque.  I find fireworks–unexploded ordinance–their gunpowder wrapped variously patterned brocade cases, secured by a sash tied in a bow.  I open a drawer–its almost like a card-catalog drawer–whose bottom is buried beneath a thick layer of ash.

All of this happened during the year when I heard the Gospel of John.  I don’t mean that it happened during a year when I listened to some section of the Gospel of John at a church service and–due to that oddly assembled text’s profound effect upon me–I therefore remember that year as, “The year when I heard the Gospel of John.”  No.  When I talk about “the year when I heard the Gospel of John,” I am referring to a period of time which lasted actually a little bit more than a year, when I played the Gospel of John through from beginning to end twice nightly, catching bits and pieces of it consciously, and absorbing every edge and thimbleful of the text in endless repetitions semi-consciously.

That year the Gospel of John sat next to me while I struggled at the edge of sleep, swimming the butterfly stroke between Beta and Theta so to speak, jackknifing repetitively just above and then just below the surface of slumber.  The version of the Gospel of John that I listened to–or at least heard–almost every night that year, either once or twice, played about 3 and a half hours from beginning to end.  Which means that I was listening to (or at least on some level hearing) the Gospel of John about 7 hours a day, most days.

I would estimate–roughly, very roughly–that I spent around 5100 hours hearing the Gospel of John during a period of about 18 months.  During that time the frequency of my hearing the Gospel of John crescendoed and decrescendoed.  There was a long period in the middle when I listened to the Gospel of John twice a night, every night, virtually without fail.  I would lie down.  Turn it on.  I would start to drift.  When it stopped I would either suddenly realize that, disturbingly, I was still near full consciousness, or if I wasn’t I would wake up at that point.  And then I would start the movie over, close my eyes again.  When it came to an end the second time, it was time to rise and continue…existing?

At the beginning of these 18 months, I was losing my mind, marginally employed and alone in an apartment in the midwest at the onset of winter.  By the end of this time, I was still losing my mind, only now I was in DC on the fourth floor of an office building near K St., which if that street name is unfamiliar to you, it’s where all the lobbyists hang out in our nation’s capitol.  When I finally lost my mind completely, it left me sitting on a stone bench underground somewhere in a tunnel.  It was such a relief.  People passed in fussy, constantly colliding arcs, whose ends and beginnings would remain forever outside of my field of vision.  My hands hung loose at my sides, knuckles on the stone and palms loosely opened up towards the ceilings.  What was I supposed to do with my hands?  Why should I even have hands, hanging there at the end of my arms?  It didn’t matter anymore.  I no longer cared.  What a sweet fucking relief to no longer have to worry about that.  Somewhere up above me, aboveground, it must have been late spring.  Nothing meant anything, and everything could just as well have been anything, could have been anyone else.

Why they weren’t that other thing which they just as easily could have been was a question whose answer no longer held much interest for me.   I would continue to be dragged along towards my destiny like a dead horse, an iron filing sliding diagonally into place within the quiet flowering of a magnetic field.  So I probably got up and rode the escalator up and I bought a hot dog and down the street I spent my last dime on a copy of the New York Times and a cup of coffee and I went to the Circle Club to huddle in amongst the others who’d come to confess.

*

When I first read the Gospel of John, I was surprised.  I was even more surprised when I found that I continued to be even more surprised, with each reading/listening.  With each encounter.  I would be sitting on my blue couch starting at the plaster stippling the ceiling.  Or I would be sitting at my desk, staring across the battered plane of oak at the spines of my books lined up along its edge where it was flush with the wall.   And I would feel like there was something else in the room, someone else.  And if it was really there, then I was the ghost that was haunting it and not the other way around.  I felt like a creature that had developed optic receptor nerves that registered light, long before the eye evolved around the stripped and rudimentary wiring through which it filtered the world.  I felt, on the other hand, like maybe those eyeless, microscopic creatures had known something–without knowing it–that I didn’t.

I would burn sage in a tea-ball and wave it around in front of me as I paced the shitty blue carpet.  I would return again and again to the desk, to double-check a passage here or there and then return to my pacing in the room.  In the room, in the middle of the night, with the lamp turned on, and my reflection framing the darkness and the blue crust of snow beneath it outside the window, on the other side of the glass.


*

I read a lot of books about the book.  About the Gospel of John, that is.  There are at least many theories about how the thing was put together as there are scholars.  I have never heard a compelling case made for there being a single author that didn’t stink of self-righteous, self-aggrandizing piety, and willful ignorance.  The story that makes the most sense to me goes like this:

There was some person who actually knew Jesus.  Not sure exactly who, but it wasn’t John Zebedee.  It may have been John Mark, the naked boy who ran away the night of the arrest down a dark aisle in Gethsemane.  It may have been some random disciple who wasn’t around for much of the ministry until the end, and who wasn’t among the twelve.  Probably his name was John, or Yohannon.

He must have given some testimony, or it’s possible that he wrote something down near the end of his life about his experiences with and thoughts about Jesus from Nazareth (Yeshua min Nazareth).   This became the skeleton of the Gospel.  It was later fleshed out by others.  Most likely most of the heavy lifting was done by a leader in a monastic community in Ephesus during the early second century and then bits and pieces were added and the thing was shuffled, a lot of stuff about John the Baptist was cut out and the final version ultimately compiled by a number of people.  It would be canonized in the 4th century.  It is the only Gospel in which Jesus seems to be explicitly, and more or less consistently identified with deity.  However Jesus says at one point, “The father is greater than I am.”  He says a number of things throughout the Gospel that thoroughly screw up the whole Athanasian creed about the Trinity.  On the other hand the only phrases and passages which could really be considered compelling evidence for the Athanasian creed also appear in John, especially in the first chapter.

It seems to me that the first chapter of John and the Special Theory of Relativity are talking about the same thing.

The Trinity is a word that doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible.  Other people made it up, centuries later.

Trinity was however, in point of fact, the top secret code name for the first detonation of a Nuclear device, in an area of New Mexico called Jornada del Muerto.  Jornada del Muerto is Spanish for “the route of the dead man” or “the day-long journey of the dead man.”  Something like that).

Here is a video of the Trinity test:

The first hydrogen bomb was 100 times more powerful than the Trinity bomb.  The warheads we have today are 4000 times more powerful.

*

We are broken.  We are ontologically broken.  We are irremediably, psychically and genetically in a state of self-nullifying contradiction and paradox.  Realizing this came as a relief at the time.  It still is a relief, when I think about it.  At least in terms of its explanatory power as a lens through to look at the universe.

What do I mean?  For example:

In the Gospel of John there is no institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.  Which is a fancy way of saying that the author(s) of John make no overt indication that they were aware of the fact that the night before Jesus was crucified, he passed around bread saying, “This is my flesh,” and passed around a cup of wine saying, “This is my blood,” and told them, “When you break this bread and drink this cup, do this in remembrance of me.”

This is a real problem.  Especially for people (such as myself) who are convinced by arguments for the primacy of John.  The primacy of John is the theory the earliest draft of John–the skeleton which remains visible but buried inside of the final draft–is the earliest written account and is probably the only account where one of the authors was an actual, living witness of the events described.  The other Gospels are based on the memories of later disciples remembering the accounts of witnesses which they may have heard some time ago. Etc. Etc.  So if you believe in the primacy of John, you look at John 6, where Jesus says, “You must eat my flesh and drink my blood,” and he seems almost desperate, like he’s trying to communicate but not getting his point across and many of his disciples leave him because they think he’s lost his mind.   You look at that, and you think, “Well maybe that’s what really happened, and they just cut and pasted that part into the last supper.  Or maybe both?  But if both, wouldn’t the message at the last supper have been redundant?  So then–did that not happen at the last supper?”

But this brings up a deeper problem: if our understanding of the last supper is flawed, than we can’t know anything.  It is the only event where all of the key witnesses and one or more of the actual authors of the gospel are actually, definitely, simultaneously present.  It is here where the agitated and probably frightened Jesus tells the disciples: “Don’t you understand?  This is it.   The thing you’ve been waiting for? It’s happening now.  You want to know God?  You’re looking at God.  You are as close to the center of the universe as you’re going to get.”

To anyone who knows the gospels well, letting go of the last supper is a little bit like peeling the banana and then throwing away the fruit instead of the peel.

But that’s the way it is.  The one person who is supposed to be whole, is shattered, is fragmented, is a broken mirror of discontinuities.  The one person whose life force flows indestructibly from before all worlds is tortured and murdered.  Who spoke the stars into space is not heard, is misunderstood.  Unsurprisingly, perhaps.  He is broken.  There are four Gospels, not one.  And more than four authors.  And any one of the the authors–even where there is a single, clear voice speaking alone, it will inevitably contradict itself.  They are broken things.  He is a broken thing.  When we look at him, we realize that we are broken too.